Andrew Scheer may be the new leader of the Conservative Party; however, Adam Radwanski writes, his party is still Stephen Harper's Party. That's abundantly clear from Scheer's and the party's reaction to the settlement with Omar Khadr:
Throughout Mr. Harper’s time in office, a complete lack of sympathy toward the Canadian kid locked up at Guantanamo Bay was a point of pride for Conservatives, to the extent that some of them still boast about their roles in delaying his repatriation. Let the elites point out that he was a 15-year-old, by most definitions a child soldier, at the time of his capture fighting for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan; that his confession to killing a U.S. special forces medic was likely coerced, and he never received a fair trial; that rather than defending his rights as a citizen, Canadian officials (under the previous Liberal government) were complicit in abusive U.S. interrogations. To the Tories, he was nothing more than an unrepentant terrorist and murderer, and that proved their connection to all the real Canadians who viewed Mr. Khadr through similarly clear eyes.
So entrenched is that perspective in the Conservative psyche that Mr. Scheer scarcely had time to open his mouth after reports that Mr. Khadr was receiving $10.5-million in public funds for his mistreatment before members of his caucus were tripping over each other to denounce it. Little more than a month into his leadership, it would have required immense intestinal fortitude for Mr. Scheer to explain to his MPs that they really should accept the settlement, since it ended a (potentially even
more lucrative) lawsuit Mr. Khadr was very likely to win.
Likewise, Harper's take on trade with China is still alive and well in the Big Blue Party:
Unlike on the Khadr file, lots of prominent Conservatives – including leadership runner-up Maxime Bernier – think that attitude is outdated. But Mr. Scheer has gone out of his way to signal that he is not among them. After his swift rebuke of the Trudeau government’s free-trade aspirations earned him a public attack from Beijing, he followed up with an op-ed in The Globe and Mail this week expressing his opposition all the more emphatically.Some of the arguments Mr. Scheer has invoked while making the case are ones that Mr. Harper might not have. While accusing the Liberals of “appeasement” for approving the sale of a technology company to Chinese interests despite security concerns, he has also cited Chinese disregard for Canadian labour standards and warned of job losses – seemingly exploring the sort of messaging that has helped U.S. conservatives appeal to blue-collar voters who traditionally leaned left.But what remains constant is that the Conservatives are happily thumbing their noses at professors, business leaders or bureaucrats who think refusing to build bridges with China constitutes a sort of denialism about the obvious economic direction of the world. Where Mr. Scheer could have tried to prove he has a more modern outlook on foreign policy than his predecessor, he is instead circling back to Mr. Harper’s early framing of solicitousness toward China as weakness.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
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